The Status of the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework 2010
The Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement 2010 negotiations started in 1997 to come up with a new Nile River Basin Agreement in the name “The Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA)”. The Negotiations started with the panel of experts drowned from the nine Nile Basin Countries namely Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt with Eritrea only attending as
observer. The panel of experts were under the guidance and advice of a world renowned International Water Law Professor, Prof. Stephen C. McCaffrey of the University of the Pacific and Mc. George School of law of USA. The Panel of experts assembled 39 article of the draft CFA based on the best practices. The 39 articles were fined distilled and expanded by the Negotiation Committee that presented the CFA for adoption to the Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-COM). The signed CFA provides principles, the scope of the framework and rights and obligations of the riparian states among other provisions.
The Agreed scope of the framework tells it all. The scope reads as follows:
The Status of the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework 2010 “The present Framework applies to the use, development, protection, conservation and management of the Nile River Basin and its resources and establishes an institutional mechanism for cooperation among the Nile Basin States” The Negotiated and signed CFA that was opened for signature on 14th May 2010 at Entebbe Nile Basin Initiative offices, if entered into force will allow the establishment of the Nile River Basin Commission.
When established the Nile River Basin Commission would play a key and central role in the sustainable, peaceful utilisation of the Shared Nile River water resources. The Commission will act as a clearing house to new projects or planned measures in the Nile River basin and hence regulate the use of the basin water resources. Such a Regulator as a referee in a football field requires rules of the game. Such rules are better provided in the Negotiated Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework.
The Key provisions of the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework are provided in articles 4 and 5 on equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile River Basin water resources and causing no significant harm to the basin States. The other articles are to ensure that these two provisions are balanced and applicable. The Nile River basin riparian states agreed to go to the negotiation table in order to come up with an agreement that has been freely negotiated and acceptable to them. Such an agreement would forestall the rights of the riparian States to utilize the shared water resources of the Nile River system in an equitable and reasonable manner and further put duty on the basin States not to cause significant harm to other riparian States. The two articles therefore balances the Right of the basin states to utilize the basins water resources with a duty not to cause significant harm to other riparian states.
This can only be achieved if the basin states cooperate under the guidance of a binding Agreement that provides the rights and duties of the basin states as provided in the negotiated Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework 2010 that today has been signed by six countries namely Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda and fully ratified by the Republic of Ethiopia while the remaining five countries of Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania are in their final stages of ratifications. Article 4 and 5 therefore, if implemented will give the required water security for the basin states. Further articles 4 and 5 together with article 10 and 16 allows for the development of a new Nile River basin regime. The new Nile River Basin regime providing additional rules (both substantive and procedural rules), Norms (the expected behaviours of the basin states that is cooperation, equitable utilisation of the shared basin water resources and causing no significant harm to other basin states) based on principles of international water law and joint planning on the development and use of the Nile River shared water resources on the projects that could cause significant harm to other basin states.
The additional advantage of the basin regime once the Agreement is in force is that unlike the basin Agreement that is adopted through consensus the basin regime enjoys the rules of unanimity that is all the basin states must clear a particular project as in the case of Niger River basin Regime. It is the development of the new Nile River Basin Regime that will resolve article 14(b) on the water security. In order to resolve article 14 (b) on the water security to enable all the Nile River Basin states to ratify or accede to the CFA 2010, it is important that a new Nile River Basin Regime be developed and added as an addendum to the CFA 2010 as was done to the Niger River Basin.
Why Egypt Should Join the Consensus on Shared Use of Nile Waters
River Nile is shared by 10 countries and because of this shared basin, an initiative was set up to monitor activities along the river. There are eleven countries that have a legitimate claim
to the waters of River Nile, namely Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt. The first nine are the riparian countries, which generate the waters flowing along this ancient river, whose source for thousands of years remained a mystery. The Sudan and Egypt are the countries that benefit most from the Nile to Egypt, in particular, the Nile is its life blood. Without it, Egypt would be a barren and desolate desert. It is not surprising that it has “threatened to go to war” if its entitlement to 85 per cent of the Nile waters, as per 1929 and 1952 colonial agreements with Britain, was tampered with or varied in any way.
In accordance with the agreements, Egypt was given what was tantamount to “veto powers” over developments along the Nile by the riparian states, so as to ensure that the volume of water going to Egypt remains the same. The situation has become untenable for these upstream states who rightly felt that these were unfair agreements which tied their hands over a natural resource over which they had an equal right; Egypt’s special needs not withstanding. Like Egypt they had needs for hydro-electric dams, water for irrigation, domestic and industrial usage. The bone of contention now is striking a balance between competing interests.
This can only be addressed through a new agreement between all states. The Co-operative Framework Agreement (CFA), which sought to replace the colonial agreements, was a step in the right direction but Egypt has not signed it even though others did. Unless Egypt agrees to a negotiated approach, the alternative will be unilateral actions like Ethiopia’s decision to build a 6,000 megawatts dam, without first consulting Egypt. Mr Frederic Musisi in a recent special report on CFA, published in Daily Monitor, observed that, according to experts, the massive dam did not affect volume of water flowing through the Blue Nile to Sudan and Egypt. It was wise for Egypt to ‘retreat’ from its threat to blow up the dam during construction, a decision which would have had catastrophic consequences beyond Ethiopia and Egypt, and most likely engulf the region. Egypt knows that such an adventure would have been seen as a declaration of war on all countries upstream, and would definitely avoid taking that path. It is high time it realises that the dynamics have changed over the years as the populations have more than quadrupled in most Nile Basin countries. Ethiopia has a population of 100 million, making it the second most populous country in Africa (after Nigeria), Egypt has 90 million, Uganda 38 million, Kenya 48 million, Tanzania 51 million.
Population growth has adversely impacted on the climate at a time when demand for water for agriculture, power generation, domestic use and industries has increased exponentially in all countries, Egypt included. The problem is that population is set to almost double over 50 years in most of Nile Basin countries, further exasperating the water situation. All the countries must address environmental degradation, whose impact on rainfall is already beginning to show. It is in Egypt’s interest and countries of the Nile Basin to invest in reversal of this dangerous phenomenon, which threatens to spread the Sahara Desert down south. Only through collective action can we save the Nile from ‘drying up’ and ensure that there is enough water for both down-stream and up-stream countries. Bickering over ‘ancient’ rights will do us no good.
Ambassador Naggaga is an economist, administrator and retired Ambassador. To Egypt, in particular, the Nile is its life blood. Without it, Egypt would be a barren and desolate desert. It is not surprising that it has “threatened to go to war” if its entitlement to 85 per cent of the Nile waters, as per 1929 and 1952 colonial agreements with Britain, was tampered with or varied in any way, writes William G. Naggaga for Daily Monitor.
Why Museveni, Other Leaders Are Keen to Strike Deal on River Nile
Rivers don’t follow political boundaries. They flow anywhere and anyhow through states and international borders, usually leaving behind a dilemma on who owns the waters and who should decide its use. The Nile is one of such river. The river’s catchment area is shared by 10 countries, known as the Nile Riparian states. They include Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, and DR Congo. That makes the river a theme for political interaction and more than once has shaken relations between and among the Riparian states that share the river with distinct variations, uses and interests. Egypt and Ethiopia are the most recent example after the latter undertook construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the river, the largest dam in Africa. Complicated hydro-politics Politics aside, the stakes over the river are rising every day, especially in light of changing socio-economic dynamics in the Nile basin, among others high population growth, climate change, infrastructure development, and environmental degradation.
Dr. Salman M. Salman, a renowned water law expert, previously advising the World Bank, in a paper titled ‘The new state of South Sudan and the hydro-politics of the Nile Basin’, classifies the stakes and interests of Egypt, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan regarding the Nile as “very high”; those of Uganda as “high”; Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania as “moderate”; and DR Congo as “low”. “Those variations present themselves quite well in the fact that Ethiopia contributes about 86 per cent of the total flow of the Nile waters, but uses only about 1 per cent, while Egypt and Sudan use almost the entire flow of the river, and do not contribute any to its flow,” he notes. To the Egyptians the Nile means life, something which was better put by one Egyptian Army Colonel who, while writing on the Egypt-Sudan relations in 1949, is quoted to observed, “The Nile to Egypt is a matter of life and death. If the water of the river were controlled by a hostile state or a state that could become a hostile state Egypt’s life is over, ... ... ..For this reason all of Egypt’s efforts are to secure life in the coming future.” For the country the river remains the only reliable source for renewable water supplies. This is a well-known fact and perhaps best explains the caution that President Museveni exercises while poring over the Nile issue. Asked by this newspaper early this month at a joint conference he addressed with the visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn still over the Nile, whether they did not need to first scrap the colonial agreements that have raised the stakes over the river even much higher, Mr Museveni skirted the question with an indirect response. He said: “We were not there then, but are here now and it is us to resolve the issues of the river.”
The two principals called for a high level summit attended by all Nile-sharing countries this June to iron out outstanding grievances, most especially of the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) that espouses equitable utilisation of the river. The CFA was adopted in Entebbe in 2010 and seeks to replace colonial agreements that grant[ed] Egypt [and Sudan] greater say on the river. New key, old lock? The CFA was signed by Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Burundi and Kenya to work towards attaining a greater share of the Nile shares, but Egypt and Sudan declined, insisting on the pre-colonial agreements which grant them bigger shares of the Nile waters but which the former interpret as granting “monopoly” over the river. Its main principles are equitable and reasonable utilization of the waters of the Nile. Uganda has yet to ratify the agreement pending consensus of all the ten countries. In 1929, Britain (then colonizing and on behalf of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania) negotiated an agreement with Egypt for greater say on the river, and in 1959 Egypt signed another agreement with Sudan giving themselves large quotas of the water. The Nile’s annual flow at the signing of the 1959 pact was measured at 85billion cubic metres.
Egypt assumed a 75 percent share (55.5 billion cubic metres) and 25 percent (18.5 billion cubic metres) to Sudan with the assumption that the upstream countries (Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia can rely on other sources like rain or fresh water bodies. What this means is that upstream countries cannot undertake any activities, say irrigation or dam construction, which could significantly affect Egypt’s [or Sudan’s] allocated water quotas. The CFA, however, allows the upstream countries to undertake activities as long as they consult widely with and notify other members, especially those that significantly depend on the river.
Sudan would later make a U-turn and requested for admission into the CFA, leaving Egypt outside alone.